Focus: Gender Equity

Girls' Leadership: East Africa

Gender equity is so much more than the fifth Sustainable Development Goal – it’s a precondition for the end to poverty and the building of peaceful societies. Empowering young women to advocate for their rights through creative action is an effective approach to positive change on the community level - allowing taboo subjects like domestic violence, early marriage, rape, FGM and HIV to be explored collaboratively and productively, helping to shift limiting beliefs and practices that prevent young women from realizing their full potential.

In partnership with AMPLIFY, CAI empowers young women in East Africa as critical agents of change, self-advocates for their rights and leaders of their schools and communities in embracing gender equity. These emerging Urumuri Dada (Sisters Who Light Up the World) implement large-scale Creative Community Social Actions with support from women staff of partnering organizations trained as mentors in the CAI creative leadership methodology. 

Young women from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania convene in Nairobi for the annual East African Girls' Leadership Summit (EAGLS), where they receive training along with women mentors addressing every aspect of girls' transition into adulthood. They return to their communities and schools equipped to identify solutions to their issues, demand education, challenge gender inequality and lead creative actions - stepping into new roles that enable them to stand up to their parents to refuse early marriage, or find support.

The results have been powerful - in 2016:

• 100% of women participating as mentors replicated leadership training and creative social actions with their schools, organizations and communities.
• 6 partner organizations and schools conducted more 15 performances, parades, community forums and mini-Summits across East Africa, galvanizing thousands to stop gender-based violence and elicit commitment from families and local leaders to stop the practice of FGM.
• As a result of a community forum about FGM, 247 parents in the Narok district of Kenya signed a pledged to forgo the practice.

Working closely throughout the year with Mentors to actively engage in community and policy dialogue through creative actions, we're giving voice to strong, independent young women speaking out against the status quo, changing the world, forever.


Curriculum design & Mentor training


The CAI Creative Leadership curriculum is designed to be flexible, replicable, and scalable - holistically addressing emotional, behavioral, cultural, and systemic elements of girls' development.

Women from partner organizations train in our participatory approach, using arts modalities and forum theater to lead young women in identifying creative solutions to entrenched issues. The goal: to gain the skills and confidence to lead creative actions in their communities and future Summits. Participants identified the training as a breakthrough in understanding ways to empower girls on their journey as future leaders.


Skills Gained

  • Fostering inclusive dialogue
  • Prompting critical thinking
  • Building trust
  • Encouraging creative risk-taking
  • Allowing exploration of taboo topics
  • Leading creative social actions

“I realized there is a wealth of knowledge in the girls that we don’t often tap into. I have learned how we can draw that out using art techniques and the circle facilitation model.”- Prisca Muwia, Kenya Education Fund

Building networks & speaking out

Vero Girls.edited

Building friendships with young women from other countries empower participants with the realization that they are not alone in the issues they face. Together, they identify and practice ways to take action against abusive and negative behaviors from their families and communities. In each Summit, they learn the choreography of Break the Chain - the official 1 Billion Rising dance to express the power and unity of thousands of girls and women across 200 countries against gender-based violence on February 14. All partner schools and organizations participate in V Day with creative actions such as teaching and performing Break the Chain, staging community marches and forums - raising awareness with the inspiring message that girls and women have the right to safety, freedom and self expression.

WATCH: Students perform spoken word poetry against FGM

Young women across East Africa coming together to claim their power, unleash their creativity, and form a network of solidarity to return to their communities with their inner torch aflame — igniting a movement in which their voices indeed matter. 

"I learned that girls have equal potential with males, that our efforts today determine our futures, that we have to appreciate ourselves and our bodies and that girls have the right to be educated.” - Habiba Mohamed, Kenya Education Fund

We are together. We have unity, 
self-confidence and creativity.

Urumuri Dada. 

We are sisters who light up the world.



Komera logo notag SML      howfundlogo transparent2     

PaperSeed Foundation Logo2